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Bruce Black searches for words and stories on Florida's west coast, only a few miles from the Gulf of Mexico.** A writer, editor of children's books, and writing instructor, his stories for children have appeared in Cricket and Cobblestone magazines.** You can contact him at wordswimmer@hotmail.com.
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1. The True Source of Dreams

Lately, I’ve noticed how some writers are getting more and more discouraged because they aren’t able to place their manuscripts with their long-time publishers or agents. After many years of writing and publishing, they are becoming pessimistic about the future of their work. Editors don’t respond to their submissions, agents no longer call or else tell them that their work isn't current,

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2. Cracking Open Your Words

When we revise our work, it is often difficult to see past the polished prose that we’ve spent so much time burnishing to a high gloss. And that’s the problem. Words that are too polished can provide the illusion of completion while hiding the flaws of a story beneath the glimmer and shine of the polish. When you revise your work, you have to look differently at your words. You have

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3. Gazing Inward

“In the depths of winter I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer.”   -Albert Camus  “To write is to turn this inward gaze into words, to study the world into which that person passes when he retires into himself, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy.” – Orhan Pamuk  So often if we want to write stories, we are told to look and listen for them as if they are “

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4. Hard Thinking

It’s one of those days when I spend more time thinking about what I’m writing than actually writing. I think about how I want to proceed, and where I think the story is going, and where the story is actually going. These days devoted to thinking are becoming almost as important as the days that I spend writing. One of my teachers, Norma Fox Mazer, once told me that the hardest part

0 Comments on Hard Thinking as of 3/2/2014 10:46:00 AM
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5. Tracing Letters in the Dust

It’s hard enough to write across national boundaries and cultures, to get inside the customs, traditions, and values of another people, and it might be even harder to write across the boundary of gender, a woman writing from a man’s perspective, say, or a man writing from a young girl’s point of view. Yet with a seemingly effortless grace and authority, Trent Reedy does both in his novel, Words

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6. What’s Luck Got To Do With It?

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that our successes, as well as our failures, are attributable to luck. If we finish a story, or find an agent, or publish a book, we often say it’s because of luck, or the stars are aligned, or someone above is offering a helping hand. It’s the same if we make a mistake, or can’t sell our work, or our book fails to gain readers—we say it’s

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7. See You Later, Alligator

There are days when writing feels like tiptoeing past alligators lying in wait, eyes aglow, watching as I struggle to keep my balance on the slippery stones leading across the swamp. No matter when I start writing, the alligators are always there waiting for me to fall. They are my fears, anxieties, and doubts waiting to ambush me. The moment I set foot in the water, the alligators are

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8. Beacons of Light - 2013

At this time of year, as winter deepens and darkness spreads its seeds of doubt, I am heartened by the Beacons of Light--Sarah Lamstein, Dianne Ochiltree, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and Pat McDermott--who illuminated the writing process for wordswimmers over this past year. Thanks to their generosity and insights into their work, I've come to better understand how my own writing process works

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9. Noticing Where You Are

The way I’m revising my work-in-progress is different than in the past. I’m content now to stay in one place in the story for as long as I need to stay there. I won’t allow myself to move ahead until I feel that I’ve finished a section—a sentence, a scene, a page, a chapter—and only then will I let myself take another step into the story. In the past I couldn’t wait to reach the end

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10. A Writer’s Self-Worth

 Every writer reaches a point in the writing process when he hits a wall, swims into a net, gets snagged by a shoal, and is unable to swim past it. Whether it’s loss of confidence in one’s writing, fatigue from spending too much time with words, hand cramps from carpal tunnel, emotional resistance to investigating one’s imagination, physical discomfort from sitting too long, or eye strain

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11. Procrastination and Perspective

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12. A Snail’s Pace

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13. Picking Up Where I Left Off

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2 Comments on Picking Up Where I Left Off, last added: 9/9/2013
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14. My friend, Chuck

Last weekend I went to visit my friend, Chuck, a writer of books for adults and children, whose nonfiction stories have appeared in Cricket magazine and elsewhere. We began meeting every month or so after I moved to Florida a decade ago. Both of us attended the same graduate writing program in Vermont and had met while sharing the dorm floor that had been reserved for the men in the program

5 Comments on My friend, Chuck, last added: 8/20/2013
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15. What it takes to write

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3 Comments on What it takes to write, last added: 8/5/2013
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16. Daydreaming

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2 Comments on Daydreaming, last added: 7/22/2013
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17. Stepping Back into the Water

When I set off on my long-distance swim three months ago, I stepped into the surf and headed into the unknown water of brain surgery like a swimmer being carried by rapids over the steep falls ahead, hoping that I'd survive the drop and emerge safely in the calm pool of water below.  Weeks later, the first time that I sat down to write after the surgery, my head still sore and my thinking

13 Comments on Stepping Back into the Water, last added: 7/17/2013
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18. Long Distance Swim

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3 Comments on Long Distance Swim, last added: 4/30/2013
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19. The Magic of Stories

The other day as I sat on the beach at the edge of the breaking surf, I thought about stories and how they exert their pull on us as readers and writers, calling to us just as the sea calls to us. What is it that pulls us into a story? And how can we as writers learn to exert this pull on our readers? That pull, that tugging of our heart, begins the moment we open a book and begin reading the

4 Comments on The Magic of Stories, last added: 2/26/2013
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20. Swimming in History

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21. The Telling Detail

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22. One Writer’s Process: Susan Campbell Bartoletti

When Susan Campbell Bartoletti embarks on a full-length nonfiction project, she knows it will take years and that she’ll have to summon all her strength. “I know it's going to be frustrating and physically and emotionally exhausting,” says the Newbery Award winning author of more than a dozen books of nonfiction and fiction for young readers, as well as picture books, “but I also know there is

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23. Message in a Bottle

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24. Staying the Course

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25. One Writer’s Process: Pat McDermott

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